Keystone Auction Overview
Based in York Pennsylvania, Keystone Auctions LLC provides professional auction services for York and the surrounding markets including Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. We utilize the internet to interact with our bidding audience, and as a result sell goods to buyers around the world.
Keystone typically holds an auction every two to three weeks, always on a Friday, during which we offer an average of 700 lots for bidding resulting in an average of almost 300 unique buyers per auction.
Keystone uses a variety of online bidding platforms (web sites) to allow auction participation from almost anywhere with an internet connection. Links to these sites are found on the Keystone Home Page. Using multiple sites allows bidders to find a site they prefer the most. We also advertise using several outlets, including Facebook, Instagram, Auction News, and others including customer contacts developed over the years to market specific kinds of items.
Auction Process and Timing
Keystone will start each auction at the time posted on our Auction Home Page and will proceed to offer the lots in lot number order at a rate of about 60 to 90 lots per hour. We cannot be responsible for issues we cannot control such as computer or bidding platform problems or your inability to be present for specific lots but will make every effort to make the auction as smooth and enjoyable as it can be.
New Bidders and Bidder Registration
Registration and Approval are Required
Each bidder must register using their preferred bidding platform before auction day, by using the register feature available on each site. You need only register on the site you will use for bidding. Keystone reviews all registration requests in the days leading up to the auction, and will approve or deny individual bidders based on past history and other factors. Our review includes viewing disputes with other auction houses.
Please note that last-minute registrations are not guaranteed a review.
Upon successful registration you will be able to begin bidding. We cannot assist with bidding issues - please contact technical support for your bidding platform for assistance.
If you feel you have been unfairly denied approval please contact us. Be aware we may require proof of good standing and other supporting materials such as a driver's license. We cannot guarantee additional review on auction day.
How to Bid
Bidding in General
Bidders are free to place bids using any of the Keystone partner bidding platforms. We cannot provide technical support for any of these web sites - please read the documents they provide and contact them directly for any issues you have.
Keystone accepts absentee bids for bidders who cannot be at their computers during the auction or simply prefer to bid in this way. Absentee bids must be received no later than close of business the day prior to the auction. Bids received after that may or may not be accepted. If you place an absentee bid, we will start your bidding at half the bid amount, assuming the amount is enough to purchase the item. See reserves below.
Note that most bidding platforms allow a maximum bid to be placed online at any time prior to a lot being offered for sale. Please contact the relevant bidding platform for questions regarding how this works. Keystone cannot be responsible for a misunderstanding between you and the bidding platform.
On a limited basis, Keystone provides a phone bidding service where we contact you to allow "live bidding" for specific high-value lots. This service is "above and beyond" and whether or not this service is provided is at the sole discretion of the auctioneer and on a first-come first-served basis. You must make arrangements no later than close of business two days prior to the auction.
Keystone does not offer live in-person bidding. Auctions are run entirely on-line.
Item Authenticity and Condition
Keystone makes every attempt to research, properly identify, and describe each item offered for sale. This includes item identity, origin, and condition. Neither Keystone nor our consignors should be considered an authority for proper description of the items offered for sale. It is up to you (the buyer) to make the final call regarding identity, authenticity, and condition for each item. In addition to an experienced staff for research, Keystone employs professional photographers to show each lot in the best possible way but also attempts to display identifying marks and defects for each item.
Feedback from our bidders to help identify or describe items, or to point out errors is welcome. We have received a great deal of helpful information from our audience - thank you.
Previews and Condition Reports
In the week leading up to an auction, prospective buyers are welcome to visit Keystone to examine lots in person. Appointments are required, and please be ready with lot numbers for the items that you wish to preview so that we can have the lots ready for your arrival.
Also in the week leading up to an auction, Keystone will reply to condition requests from interested bidders concerning lot condition, size, provenance, and other questions received. Please read the lot description first - we try to give complete information there. Missing information often means we do not have it. Because of the varying number of condition report requests received, Keystone cannot guarantee a reply to questions received after close of business the day before the auction.
Contact with our Consignors
Keystone will not place you (the buyer) in contact with our consignors.
Reserves and Lot Withdrawal
Keystone allows consignors to place a reserve on items offered for sale. This is a dollar amount below which we will not sell the item, marking it as "passed". Note that the reserve is a confidential arrangement between the consignor and Keystone.
The auctioneer, at their sole discretion and at any time, is free to withdraw any lot from the auction for any reason, including but not limited to failure to reach reserve, late information regarding item authenticity or condition, incorrect lot information, or failure to reach expected bidding dollar amount levels.
If You Win
We Will Contact You
If you win a lot, it will not be available for shipping or pickup until the Monday afternoon following the auction. An invoice will be sent via email no later than the day after the auction. Messages sent to us during the weekend will be dealt with starting the Monday after the auction.
We will process paid orders and start building shipments Monday morning after the auction. See Order Fulfillment for more information on receiving your items.
Please keep in mind that Keystone will, in a few days, process an average of 300 invoices and 750 lots after each auction. This includes receiving dozens or hundreds of messages from customers. If you do leave a message or send an email, please be patient for our reply. See Contact Keystone for ways to reach us.
Automatic Shipping Release
Beginning Tuesday after each auction, and without further authorization from you, Keystone will automatically release paid orders to our preferred shipper (Postal Connections) unless you make alternate arrangements. Please refer to Order Fulfillment for complete information.
We will not usually release larger items and furniture to Postal Connections, but instead will work with you to make shipping or pickup arrangements.
Premiums, Sales Tax, Credit Card Fees
The amount seen during bidding is a "hammer price" which is the basis to figure the final cost for a won lot. To the hammer price is added a Buyer's Premium of 25%. If you are making a taxable purchase, tax will be applied to the hammer plus premium to arrive at a final lot cost.
If you are a Pennsylvania resident and are not a tax-exempt buyer, a 6% PA state sales tax will be applied to taxable purchases. If you are an out-of-state resident and indicate through the Live Auctioneers bidding platform that you will pick up your item in person, they will charge this 6% PA state sales tax as if you purchased the item in Pennsylvania.
If you are tax exempt and want us to remove tax from your order, we require you to send us a copy of your current tax exemption certificate. This form is available at PA State Sales Tax Exemption Certificate Form. We cannot remove tax without this information, and cannot remove tax from a Live Auctioneers invoice in any case.
Live Auctioneers and Taxes
If you are not a Pennsylvania resident, Live Auctioneers might apply a state sales tax at the tax rate for your state. There is nothing we can do about this. If you are tax exempt in your state and are using Live Auctioneers, you must contact them to apply for tax exempt status since we cannot remove sales tax from a Live Auctioneers invoice Be prepared with your tax exemption certificates.
Credit Card Fee
Keystone incurs a fee for every credit card transaction used to pay our invoices. We pass that along to buyers as a 3% credit card fee which is added to the total invoice amount. This fee is applied to all invoices regardless of how payment is made.
The only way to avoid the credit card fee (if not using ACH or cashier's check) is to write a check or pay with cash in person. Please let us know if you wish to pay with check or with cash.
Note that the cost for shipping is not included on our invoice to you. If you are not picking up your purchase in person, you will directly pay a shipper to get your items to you. Please see Order Fulfillment for details.
Keystone accepts payment through a variety of means, including most major credit cards, cash, check, money order, wire transfer (ACH, or Automatic Clearing House). You will have an easy way to pay using your bidding platform. We can also accept credit card payment over the phone.
Payment with a personal check requires communication with Keystone. At the very least we will require a driver's license. Communication will also prevent automatic payment using your credit card on file.
Note that there are fees due to Keystone associated with credit card and wire transfer payment. See Premiums, Sales Tax, Credit Card Fees for details. There also may be fees for cashier's checks or ACH payments payable to your bank.
Keystone does not accept payment through the various online payment services such as PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay, etc.
Guaranteed Payment Methods
The preferred payment methods for high-value items or large orders are wire transfer (ACH), cashier or bank check, or money order. These are fast and secure and largely immune from fraud. Unfortunately, auction houses are victims of credit card fraud on a regular basis, so we may require special payment methods for larger orders of high-value items such as gold, jewelry, etc. The auctioneer has final say on acceptable payment methods for high-value lots.
Some bidding platforms such as Live Auctioneers provide a automatic payment feature and will charge the credit card on file according to a schedule set by them - currently three days after the invoice date. If you wish to not be charged automatically, please contact them prior to bidding to avoid the automatic payment.
If you choose to visit us to retrieve your won lots (see Order Fulfillment) you can pay at that time using a personal check or cash. For a check we will require a driver's license for new customers. If you are tax exempt please bring proof if we do not already have it.
Keystone requires payment on or before the second Monday (10 days) after the auction. Starting the second Tuesday (11 days) after each auction we will start filing disputes with our online bidding platform partners. This may prevent future bidding with Keystone and also prevent your registration with other auction houses. Starting the second Wednesday (12 days) after each auction, we will begin canceling invoices that have not been paid.
Payment for Dangerous or Prohibited Items
Some online platforms, in particular Invaluables, will flag certain lots based on keywords such as "knife" or "weapon" and will not allow payment through their platform. In this case your invoice will appear as unpaid or partly paid. To Keystone this is an unpaid invoice and will be handled as such. In this case you must pay for the affected lots using another method. Usually it's easiest ti call Keystone to pay the remaining balance with a credit card over the phone.
Keystone Preferred Shipping Partners
Keystone does not ship orders from the auction house, but instead we partner with Postal Connections to provide professional pack and ship services. We use multiple Postal Connections locations and do not know in advance which one will receive your order. Please do not contact the shipper about your order - they will contact you after receiving your order and know nothing about it until we release it to them.
Automatic Shipping Release
Starting the Tuesday after each Auction Keystone will, without further authorization from you and unless you make prior arrangements, release paid orders to our shipping partners who will in turn reach out to you to make delivery arrangements. The cost for shipping is due directly to the shipper and Keystone does not know in advance what shipping will cost, nor will we ask our shippers for shipping estimates.
Shipping for Larger Items
We usually do not automatically release large or heavy items such a rugs, furniture, statues, mechanical equipment, and pianos to our shippers. Successful bidders are responsible to set up shipping arrangements for these items. Keystone will assist in this process but we will not directly contract with a shipper. Please remain in contact with us during your shipper selection process. Please note that Keystone may, at its discretion, apply storage fees for items not removed starting two weeks after an auction.
Orders Refused at the Shippers
If your order is released to a shipper and you refuse to pay them for packaging and shipping then after a period of time, usually about 30 days after the order was released, they will return the order to us and we will deal with the order accordingly.
Failure on the part of successful bidders to foresee shipping costs is not grounds for a refund from Keystone since at that time we have met our obligation to both you the buyer and to our consignors. Shipping is not inexpensive; please keep that in mind as you bid.
In-person pickup at our York PA location requires an appointment. If you intend to visit us please call to get on the schedule. We schedule pickups to avoid conflicts and delays when you arrive in order to give everyone the best possible experience. Please see our location information for details on our office location. Pickup is done at the side door, between the buildings. Please be aware that many larger items, especially furniture, is stored in a separate location which is nearby but unstaffed. We will advise you concerning your order location when you call to make a pickup appointment.
Bidding an Payment Issues and Issue Resolution
Issues with Online Bidding
Keystone has no control over the various partner bidding platforms nor can we foresee issues you may have using their services. Any issues you may have should be brought to their attention. They are fully staffed and are usually very responsive.
Bidding Ties, Items Sold to Other Bidders
On occasion, and for reasons we cannot control a bidding "tie" will occur where another buyer wins a lot at the amount of your maximum bid. Keystone will, just like during an in-person auction, award the win to the bidder who from our perspective submits the winning bid amount first. We utilize multiple bidding platforms and they alternate bids, just like an in-person auction with two interested buyers, until a winner is chosen.
In any case, the auctioneer's decision concerning who won a particular lot is final, and cannot be changed.
Keystone offers a variety of payment methods for your convenience. However, we cannot control your credit cards or checkbooks, so any issue with payment will require you contact your bank or lender for a resolution. Please keep us aware of any situation that prevents us from getting paid. We will help if we can, but the payment schedule described above applies to all transactions.
We take pride in getting you your won items in the same condition we received them. On occasion, however, you may receive damaged goods. In this case, please take photographs of both the packaging and the item, clearly showing the damage to packaging and the item, and contact us for a resolution. Frequently shippers include a note on how to deal with damage - please closely follow their instructions.
Business hours: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday.
Pickup Hours: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Thursday except the first Monday after each auction.
Feel free to contact us at any time.